If you haven’t seen it:
All About Eve is a fun, exciting, glamorous, soap opera of a movie. It tells the story of a young girl’s rise to stardom, and the jealousy and suspicion she creates around her. Anne Baxter plays the young actress, and Bette Davis plays the older star who befriends her takes her under her wing.
All About Eve won six Oscars, including best picture (beating Sunset Boulevard), although it did not win best actress – which is usually regarded as one of the greatest miscarriages of Oscar justice of all time. It has a good story that keeps you guessing, a great cast of familiar names and faces, and is a well made movie that has aged very well – recommended.
If you have seen it:
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SPOILER ALERT: The plot summary and comments below contain details that might spoil your enjoyment of the movie if you have not already seen it.
The movie begins with a scene showing young star Eve Harrington receiving a prestigious theatre award, and we learn, in flashback, the story of her rise to fame.
Eve is a (seemingly) naive and innocent fan of the great Broadway star Margot Channing. Margot befriends her, and employs her as her assistant. Gradually though, Margot becomes suspicious of Eve’s motives, jealous of her youth and beauty, and worried about her intentions towards her boyfriend Bill. After a number of episodes of bad temper, vanity, selfishness, and drunken tantrums, Margot has alienated her friends. Eve in the meantime, has charmed everyone she has met, and become appointed as Margot’s understudy. One of Margot’s friends, Karen, fed up with Margot’s behaviour, tricks her into missing a show, giving Eve the opportunity to go on in her place. Eve seizes this chance, and puts in a great performance.
Flush with success, Eve reveals her true colors. First, she propositions Bill, but he turns her down. Next she blackmails Karen into arranging more starring roles for her. Then she seduces Karen’s husband.
As Eve’s career is taking off, she is confronted by the cynical critic Addison DeWitt. He reveals that he knows about the lies she has told, and the people she has manipulated to get where she is today. He informs her that now she “belongs” to him, and Eve accepts her fate, recognizing that Addison is a kindred spirit.
The movie ends with Eve returning to her hotel suite, where she meets a young woman, a (seemingly) naive and innocent fan of the great star Eve Harrington!
Steve Sunday Says:
Of course Bette Davis is great in this, I think we can all agree on that? Not everyone rates Anne Baxter’s performance though – some people love her, others find her performance one-dimensional and unconvincing. I thought she held her own very well, but I would have liked to have seen more of her evil nature and her sexuality – I guess 1950s Hollywood wouldn’t allow the sort of scenes that I am thinking of.
For me though, this movie featured two amazing performances apart from those two. The first was George Sanders – I love him because he was the voice of Shere Khan in The Jungle Book, and I could listen to his voice all day. The second was Marilyn Monroe – she is such an iconic figure that I often forget she was an actress too! Whenever I see her in a movie I feel the same way I would if Princess Di popped up playing a chorus girl. Marilyn is only on screen for about two minutes in All About Eve, but she comes close to stealing the movie. You can see why everyone fell in love with her.
Trivia Trish Says:
- All About Eve is based on a 1946 short story by Mary Orr called “The Wisdom of Eve”. This story was based on a real incident involving the Austrian actress Elisabeth Bergner who employed a young fan as an assistant, and later regretted it as she tried to undermine her.
- Claudette Colbert was originally cast as Margo Channing but she severely injured her back and was forced to withdraw shortly before filming began.
- Anne Baxter got the role of Eve Harrington after the first choice, Jeanne Crain, became pregnant.
- During filming, Zsa Zsa Gabor kept arriving on the set because she was jealous that her husband George Sanders was working with Marilyn Monroe.
- In the 2008 episode of The Simpsons, “All About Lisa”, Lisa becomes Krusty the Clown’s assistant, eventually taking his place on television and receiving an entertainment award.
- In an echo of the main theme of the movie, Anne Baxter successfully lobbied to get herself nominated for an Oscar in the Best Actress category rather than Best Supporting Actress. As both her and Davis were nominated, the vote was split, and neither won. Baxter’s actions in effect blocked Davis’ chances for the win.
- Bette Davis fell in love with her co-star Gary Merrill during the shoot of this movie and the two married in July 1950 a few weeks after filming was completed. They adopted a baby girl, whom they named Margot.
Chris the Critic says:
All About Eve is the consummate backstage story, a film that holds a magnifying glass up to the theatrical environs and exposes all the egos, tempers, conspiracies, and backstage back-biting that make up the world of make-believe Broadway. The screenplay may be the most biting example of hard-boiled wit ever to come out of Hollywood, and it is stylishly performed at a breakneck pace by a uniformly expert cast.
Top Ten All About Eve movies
Some hit movies – Frankenstein, Tarzan, Night of the Living Dead – inspire sequels, spin-offs, spoofs, rip-offs, remakes, and reboots. Some do not. Here we imagine the movies we could have had if Hollywood had decided to exploit the Eve sub-genre:
- All About Eve – the original
- Even More About Eve – the disappointing sequel
- Enough About Eve, already – “part 3” (straight to video)
- All About Christmas Eve – festive version
- All About Adam and Eve – sponsored by the Creationism lobby
- Downfall About Eve – Hitler rants furiously about how unfair it was that Bette Davis did not win the Oscar
- All About Ebony – blaxploitation pic
- All About Sunset Boulevard – Margot Channing and Norma Desmond in a fight to the death
- All Inside Eve – the inevitable porn version
- All Inside Steve – the equally inevitable gay porn version
Main Cast and Crew:
Bette Davis … Margo Channing
Anne Baxter … Eve Harrington
George Sanders … Addison DeWitt
Gary Merrill … Bill Simpson
Celeste Holm … Karen Richards
Hugh Marlowe … Lloyd Richards
written and directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz